Want classy paintings hanging in your house or office but can’t afford it? Shenzhen has a solution for you – Dafen "Artist Village", where you’ll find endless painting shops with artists copying the best of the best of the art world. Fancy a Van Gogh? Maybe a Picasso? Hand them the photo, come back in an hour, and – walla – it’s ready.
How does it look in action?
Okay, if it’s a more elaborate piece it might take more than an hour, but they’re good, they’re really good, atleast as far as my very inexperienced eye can tell. Walking around, you’ll see a huge variety of shops selling fakes in all shapes and forms. It’s a real thriving business model, it seems.
This is how a fake official village website puts it:
Shop in China’s most concentrated Oil Painting Production & Wholesale Base,Buy Oil Paintings directly from Dafen village,Get High Quality handmade Reproductions, Custom/Commissioned Paintings,Original Paintings at unbeatable price.
Wikitravel has the background and some recommendations:
Dafen Oil Painting Village (大芬油画村; Dàfèn Yóuhuà Cūn), Dafen Village, Buji, 龙岗区布吉街道大芬社区 (Dafen (大芬) Metro Station, Longgang Line). In 1988, a Hong Kong businessman called Wong Kong, who had a business specialising in reproduction art, decided that there was no future in Hong Kong and set up in Dafen, even though it was not in the SEZ. Soon he was joined by artists from all over China, some classically trained but many just talented amateurs fresh from the paddy fields. And so Dafen was born.
It is set in an old Hakka village and consists of street after street of shops selling oil paintings, watercolors, and embroidered paintings. Examine things carefully, as some of the artwork is machine printed, rather than hand made. Much of it is rubbish but some of China’s best artists also have studios in Dafen.
For a few hundred Yuan you can commission an artist to copy your favorite piece of art, your wedding photo, or photos of your family. Insist on "A" quality – it costs a little more but it’s worth it. You can also get incredibly rapid framing while you wait and inexpensive art supplies. There is a handsome modern gallery exhibiting works by Dafen local painters. And don’t miss the experience of the Qi Xing teahouse, built round several 300 year old Hakka houses with beautiful courtyards.
Let’s take a walk between the galleries …
Aside from the galleries, it’s generally quite a pleasant area to wonder about in…
A real Shenzhen attraction, if you ask me. Don’t miss this.
To get there, take the subway to Dafen station and stroll this area :
More on the Dafen artist village: